For some time now, Instagram has been accused of stealing ideas from Snapchat. Now, the social media company’s CEO has broken his silence to put a stop to all the talk.
One of the glaring copying offenses that Instagram has been accused of concerns its Stories feature, which is reportedly a virtual reproduction of Snapchat’s own version. It’s a new feature introduced last year, which allows users to post photos or videos that will be expunged forever after just 24 hours.
However, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said in an interview that, while there are similarities, it certainly “doesn’t mean that you’re copying.” He insisted that what they are doing instead is “building upon the technology” that Snapchat started.
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Systrom then harkened back to the old days when the only car was the Ford Model T. Pointing out that countless vehicle manufacturers have come up with different models since then, but they still all have wheels and windows like the first car.
"The first time you see a product show up somewhere else it feels a lot like copying, but imagine a world where the only car was the Ford Model T," he explained.
This is a sensitive issue for Snapchat, considering that Instagram managed to flip more people into using the feature compared to them. There are reportedly 200 million users who are active customers of Intagram Stories daily compared to Snap’s 166 million.
Rubbing salt to Snapchat’s wound is Facebook’s own decision to roll out a similar feature on its platform, as well as on Messenger and WhatsApp.
Nevertheless, Systrom appears to be skirting the issue since he was quoted once before about Snap’s direct influence on Instagram Stories. In an interview with reporters in August of last year, he was asked point-blank about Snapchat’s similar concept, and he conceded that “they deserve all the credit.”
“This isn’t about who invented something,” he said. “This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it.”
Systrom said the practice of building on the technology is not exclusive to Instagram. For instance, Snapchat copied face filters and slideshows from somewhere else. Twitter started hashtags, then Facebook copied it. Similarly, Pixar and Dreamworks are the leaders in computer animation but they are not the same.
While he said Instagram Stories might be similar to Snapchat, they definitely add more value to this sharing feature, which is the reason why more people are actively using it on their platform compared to the competition.